Murray is right to lose Ireland's clash with All Blacks, says Sexton



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Johnny Sexton backed Conor Murray's "smart" decision to keep New Zealand from completing his first game in five months.

Scrum midfielder Murray has not played since injuring his neck on Ireland's summer tour to Australia in June, and was omitted from the squad of 42 men.

Coach Joe Schmidt revealed that Murray could call to see if he was ready to face the All Blacks in Dublin, and Ireland has now confirmed that the 29-year-old will not appear this fall.

Powerful center Robbie Henshaw will also miss Saturday's showdown with a concussion in a double-hamstring for the hosts, but sexton sexton insisted Murray was wise not to take chances.

"Obviously I got in touch with Conor a lot about the injury to see how he's doing and all the time he's improving but I suppose he's just trying to make sure he can get it right from now on and not be a issue from now on, "Sexton said.

"It's probably a smart thing. That's a big question. If you're out for a few weeks and are prompted to play All All Blacks, that's hard enough. But if you are out of the period he is out, this would be a big step.

"Hopefully we'll see him soon, I'm not sure how long, but obviously he's a quality player, we hope to have him back, whether it's Munster or Ireland, whenever he can."

Kieran Marmion and Luke McGrath are expected to act as Irish machine guns again in Murray's absence, while Henshaw's tendon injury will have Chief Schmidt hoping to pair Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose in midfield.

"Conor Murray is accelerating his recovery but will not join the team during the Guinness Series window," the Irish Rugby Football Federation (IRFU) confirmed in a statement.

"The issue of Robbie Henshaw's thighs will keep him from the rest of the series."

Sexton helped Ireland win New Zealand for the first time in their history in a 40-29 victory at Chicago in 2016, and then led the Lions to the 2017 test series.

Stock Photo of Johnny SextonJohnny Sexton in the picture believes Ireland can face New Zealand without injured pair Conor Murray and Robbie Henshaw (Lorraine O & Sullivan / PA)

The 33-year-old has backed Ireland to face the injured Henshaw, midfield Marmion and McGrath in the absence of Murray.

"Robbie Henshaw has been a big part of the team in recent years; I'm sure he will recover quickly, but he obviously is a loss, "Sexton said.

"He would be a loss to many teams in the world and he will be a loss for us this week." But the guys who are available will do a great job.

"Conor (Murray) is a world class player and the guys behind him are hunting, but I think they got on well at the end of the week.

"I think the more time you spend in the environment here, the more comfortable you get and the better you get.

"I'm sure these guys are going to take a step forward again this week."

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